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The following reflection was written by Sacha Roytman, CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM).
Last Thursday, I embarked on a emotional journey from Tel Aviv to Berlin, spending an intense 12 hours in the German capital.
Upon arrival, I was immediately struck by the many German, Israeli, and Ukrainian flags I saw waving side-by-side in a powerful display of solidarity and allyship.
My first stop was the iconic Brandenburg Gate, where a group of Berlin residents held a rally to raise awareness of the plight of Kfir Bibas, the youngest of the more than 130 hostages still being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Thursday was Kfir’s birthday, and the demonstrators brought balloons, stuffed animals, and cakes with them.
At the same time, less than a half mile away, other Berliners came together at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe to pay their respects to the victims of the Holocaust. The proximity of these two gatherings — focused on both past and present atrocities faced by the Jewish people — was deeply moving for me.
My primary purpose for visiting Berlin was an art exhibition organized by CAM and ISRAEL-is to celebrate Kfir’s birthday. Artists from across the globe, including my mother-in-law Dafna Yarom, created evocative works to draw international attention to the ongoing plight of the Bibas family — father Yarden, mother Shiri, and their two sons, Ariel and Kfir, all brutally kidnapped from their Nir Oz home on October 7th.
Eylon Keshet, Yarden’s cousin, joined us, adding a deeply personal element to the evening by speaking on Kfir’s behalf and poignantly sharing the Bibas’ family’s story.
By hosting this important event, the city of Berlin once again admirably demonstrated its commitment to remembering the past, protecting its contemporary Jewish community, and safeguarding the human rights of all people. I returned to Israel truly inspired by what I experienced there, and I’d like to give a heartfelt thank you to all our partners and CAM team members who brought this impactful and memorable initiative to life.